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Biochemistry. 2004 Feb 24;43(7):2022-31.

Role of the [2Fe-2S] cluster in recombinant Escherichia coli biotin synthase.

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  • 1Department of Physics, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Biotin synthase (BioB) converts dethiobiotin into biotin by inserting a sulfur atom between C6 and C9 of dethiobiotin in an S-adenosylmethionine (SAM)-dependent reaction. The as-purified recombinant BioB from Escherichia coli is a homodimeric molecule containing one [2Fe-2S](2+) cluster per monomer. It is inactive in vitro without the addition of exogenous Fe. Anaerobic reconstitution of the as-purified [2Fe-2S]-containing BioB with Fe(2+) and S(2)(-) produces a form of BioB that contains approximately one [2Fe-2S](2+) and one [4Fe-4S](2+) cluster per monomer ([2Fe-2S]/[4Fe-4S] BioB). In the absence of added Fe, the [2Fe-2S]/[4Fe-4S] BioB is active and can produce up to approximately 0.7 equiv of biotin per monomer. To better define the roles of the Fe-S clusters in the BioB reaction, Mössbauer and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy have been used to monitor the states of the Fe-S clusters during the conversion of dethiobiotin to biotin. The results show that the [4Fe-4S](2+) cluster is stable during the reaction and present in the SAM-bound form, supporting the current consensus that the functional role of the [4Fe-4S] cluster is to bind SAM and facilitate the reductive cleavage of SAM to generate the catalytically essential 5'-deoxyadenosyl radical. The results also demonstrate that approximately (2)/(3) of the [2Fe-2S] clusters are degraded by the end of the turnover experiment (24 h at 25 degrees C). A transient species with spectroscopic properties consistent with a [2Fe-2S](+) cluster is observed during turnover, suggesting that the degradation of the [2Fe-2S](2+) cluster is initiated by reduction of the cluster. This observed degradation of the [2Fe-2S] cluster during biotin formation is consistent with the proposed sacrificial S-donating function of the [2Fe-2S] cluster put forth by Jarrett and co-workers (Ugulava et al. (2001) Biochemistry 40, 8352-8358). Interestingly, degradation of the [2Fe-2S](2+) cluster was found not to parallel biotin formation. The initial decay rate of the [2Fe-2S](2+) cluster is about 1 order of magnitude faster than the initial formation rate of biotin, indicating that if the [2Fe-2S] cluster is the immediate S donor for biotin synthesis, insertion of S into dethiobiotin would not be the rate-limiting step. Alternatively, the [2Fe-2S] cluster may not be the immediate S donor. Instead, degradation of the [2Fe-2S] cluster may generate a protein-bound polysulfide or persulfide that serves as the immediate S donor for biotin production.

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